How to Clean and Condition Leather
Cleaning and Conditioning Leather
Leather is tough and wear and tear is inevitable but cleaning it the wrong way can damage it and make it appear much older than it is. Cleaning and caring for leather properly, will only improve the look of the piece with age.
One basic thing to remember when cleaning leather is to avoid drying it out or doing anything that alters its appearance.
It’s not necessary to spend a great deal of money on products for cleaning leather, especially the finished type of leather commonly used to make coats, furniture, and boots.
Primarily, you only need inexpensive products you probably already have in your home and that contain less harmful chemicals than the manufactured leather cleaning products.
Homemade Leather Cleaner
- One part mild liquid soap
- 4 parts lukewarm water
You can also use Murphy’s Oil Soap
- 3 drops Murphy’s Oil Soap
- 2 cups lukewarm water
Homemade Leather Conditioner
- Vegetable oil
Leather Cleaning Tips
- Start by using a clean cloth to wipe the surface of the piece to remove any dirt or dust.
- Use a gentle soap product like Dove, Ivory dish soap, or Murphy’s.
- Before you get heavily into cleaning any visible part of the leather, test an area of the leather like the bottom back side where it’s inconspicuous. Some leathers might lighten or dry out from the soap that you use. It is not likely that there will be a problem, but do the test and wait twenty-four hours before you decide to clean the rest of the material.
- Remember that leather is not water-proof. It is water resistant. The idea is to use as little soap and water as possible- Just enough needed to clean it, and no more than that.
- Condition the leather after cleaning to avoid it from drying.
After mixing your cleaner, dunk another clean cloth in it and wring it out then rub the surface of the leather piece in a circular motion to clean. Be sure the cloth is not overly wet.
When you are finished cleaning, wipe the item dry with another clean cloth. If you are working on a large item like furniture, clean in sections and wipe dry after each section.
Leather contains natural oils, and the washing process will remove some of these.
It’s very important to put some oil back into the leather. Take a clean dry cloth and put a small dab of vegetable oil on it and work this into the leather using a circular motion. Do not use so much oil that the surface looks more shiny than normal because that means oil is standing on the surface and attracting dirt and grime. If you have applied too much, simply wipe off the excess with a clean cloth.